By an off-chance passing on Tumblr of mutual likes, I found today’s artist’s site. When I arrived, I was mesmirised on not only how legit her art was, but how legit it was in different circles. It speaks professionality by it’s discipline. Her many types of specialisations and varieties of styles speak of her flexibility and ability to adapt. Some of those variations in her style even boast street cred, showing qualities that you might see in the most beautiful mural art…or graffiti.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that my admired artist was also a musician!
You’ve spoken of coming from a life of means and privilege that has afforded you great opportunities. You also spoke of how your life changed forever by something that challenged your dreams. Is it okay for us to ask you to expand upon that? We think that our readers might gain some inspiration by your story.
Sometimes you are put in a position where people are jealous of what you have, what you are doing, what you stand for, etc. They will do anything to tear you down to pieces; destroy you and everything you stand for, just for their own satisfaction. My dad always told me this happens to dreamers, the go-getters, the people that want to forge their own path. Basically, in a generalized aspect this is what happened to my family for a couple of years: people were jealous of my father, had a lot of power, and wanted to use it to destroy him and his career. For a while we fought and fought, but through all the struggle I think we learned to see different blessings and amazing miracles in that time of struggle. So for people who are fighting their own wars, there is a light, just stay strong.
You come from a medical family. In fact, I heard that you originally went to school to practice the medical sciences. How much of that is a part of your life, now?
Honestly, not a lot now since I’ve dedicated myself to the arts. However, there are times when I miss the scientific part of myself. Sometimes, I get ideas in which I want to tie science into my art, which I already have in some cases. 🙂
I have a friend that trolls on other artists about “You need to brush up on your anatomy books!” The layman might not get it. Does studying the medical sciences help in your arts?
Yeah definitely! It also helps when you come from a medical family, hahah. But on a real note, all you have to do to become better at anatomy is keep drawing and practicing. There’s no cheat code around it!
I have to say that I instantly fell in love with your visual art style. It’s one part manga, one part graffiti, one part hip hop, one part tattoo aesthetics, and a whole lot of fantasy. It’s sensual. It’s warm. It’s powerful. It reminds me of so many genres that were bourne from a style that elitists and orthodox practitioners fail to professionally recognise, yet are made legitimate. How would YOU describe your visual art style?
I honestly would say what you said above! I sort of morph all of these styles into my own, and it seems to have always worked for me. I always say that the most successful artists are not successful solely based on skill, but have something different, unique and avant-garde to give to the world.
You’ve openly spoken how video gaming influenced your visual art style; I think otaku culture in general has also. You’ve also mentioned comics. What other influences are there on your style?
I draw influences from everything around me to be honest. Whether it be food, music, culture, etc., I look for inspiration everywhere, and try to find the artistic beauty in every little thing.
What are all of your specialties in the visual arts? What are all of the types of art that you practice?
I would say both digital and traditional (street art included). Honestly, I love trying everything, but if I’d personally have to pick I’d probably go digital. ‘No mess, and super convenient especially when I’m touring.
Is there anywhere that we might have seen examples of your visual art?
I’ve worked with a couple companies with regard to my art (t-shirt, gaming, trading cards, etc.) in which I’ve designed logos and concept art… as well as album art for countless musicians. The list goes on!
I was turned on to your work as a visual artist, but I was surprised to learn that you were more well-known in some circles as a musician. On your official artwork page, you talk about your sketches at a young age. How long have you been exploring that facet of yourself? Could you enlighten us on any projects in music that you are especially proud of?
Back in the day, I always sang, but just not professionally. I was kind of “discovered” in Miami a few years ago by a producer who loved my art, and found out that I could sing, so he kind of guided me into the world of the music industry. Right now, my most recent accomplishment is signing a distribution deal with Warner Music, so I’m really excited about that.
How would you describe your musical style? Who are some musical artists that you admire? Are there any artists that you could see yourself working with?
I think for me, pop is my go to, but I really like to infuse pop with different styles (trap/edm/etc.). I love artists like Sia, Travis Scott, Kid Cudi; honestly, I could probably go on forever because I respect so many artists. I’d kill for a feature with Kanye though, haha. Or maybe Post Malone.
Are you able to practice both artistic aspects of yourself in harmony or ease? Do you find that it is easier to create visual art regardless of external stimulus or challenges, or does music come easier? Do you find yourself indulging in one, while neglecting another, sometimes? Does creativity come in cycles between the two, or is it constant?
For me it depends, sometimes I’m in a mood and I’m sitting here like “Nah”, haha, and sometimes I have this burst of creativity that comes from literally nowhere. I don’t think forcing the process is right, you just gotta let it happen. If you find yourself having an art or music block, take a break, go outside, enjoy nature and draw some inspiration.
This might sound like a strange question, but I want you to hear me out. I found it a little hard to believe that “Sukesha Ray: The Visual Artist” and “Sukesha Ray: The Musician” were the same person. I think that people tend to introduce themselves like a resume. They list all their talents and qualities they consider attractive to their audiences, and bill themselves as a talent explosion. You, on the other hand present your facets for their relevant talents, and let them stand on their own as their own public figures. Is this a conscious decision by design or a happy accident?
I had to make this decision when I started working professionally as a musician. It can get confusing for music executives to look at a page and see all this randomness(music, art, photographs) going on, and I wanted something clean and concise.
I also noticed that you do not use your beauty to promote your visual art. I guess as a musician you have to show yourself to promote your art, but you don’t push your natural physical gifts to help promote yourself as a visual artist. Is this by design?
Kind of the same response to the above question…I had it all concise at one point, but when I started to work with a professional team with regards to music, they told me I should separate it just because music and art execs would be very confused. You should dedicate a different page to each of your talents and create a niche, so that everything is very organized. However, I still link them to one another, so that they are linked to my name. Branding is the most important, and it’s different for art and music. Two very similar, but different industries.
Well, it’s the end of the interview, and I like to end it with asking our guests to the page if there was anything that they would like for your fans and our readers to know.
I would just like to say thank you to everyone for the support of my music and art. I work very hard everyday and I hope that what I create can put a smile on someone’s face. Thank you!
Welcome to the Game Corner! This month, I’ll cover a bit of my backlog featuring Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and a few other quality titles. If you like JRPGs and Fighting Games, you’ll surely find a favorite here!
Thanks to Pyra and Mythra’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s Fighter Pass 2, I hopped back onto the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 hype train. Having played them a bit, I gotta say I enjoy their playstyle. They may have what it takes to become my new secondaries. But in addition to trying them out on Smash online, I figured it would be worth exploring the stories they’re from as well.
In the meantime, I also managed to beat a Zelda title after a 10-year span and even jumped back into an old fighting favorite: Dragon Ball FighterZ. In the meantime, I continue my playthrough of Final Fantasy XV. Though to be fair, I haven’t touched it in a week so I’ll be omitting it from this list. Rest assured, I will have it beat before Final Fantasy XVI comes out.
Speaking of Final Fantasy, I postponed my playthrough of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Since I’m less than halfway through the game and Square-Enix announced the Intergrade and PS5 version enhancements, I’ve decided to wait until its release to resume my playthrough.
For those of you Final Fantasy fans looking to bite into a classic type experience, though, I recommend checking out Bravely Default II for Nintendo Switch. I watched my girlfriend beat this game and it really strikes the right chord for classic Final Fantasy fans. If you love the Job system of Final Fantasy V, you’ll surely want to sink your fangs right into this one.
With that being said, let’s get into this week’s Game Corner, shall we?
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
While I’ve been regularly playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 since the beginning of the year, the Pyra/Mythra Smash release hype bug bit me. I’ve only just now reached Mor Ardain, however, and am about 30 hours in.
When Shulk was announced for Super Smash Bros. 4, it prompted me to finish my long-delayed playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii. I guess you could say history repeats itself here. Speaking of which, my girlfriend also started her playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition for Nintendo Switch. While I’ve beaten the original game and don’t intend to play it, I look forward to watching her discover the worlds of Bionis and Mechonis for the first time!
While I intend to finish the storyline of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, however, I don’t see myself finishing the side-quests. I’ve heard they become quite repetitive and to the point that it would lose my interest. However, since I purchased it pre-emptively, I have a mind to do the Torna – The Golden Country DLC episode once I beat the game.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Beating Spirit Tracks was an adventure 11 years in the making. Having gotten this game in 2010, I never beat this game on my DS. I ended up losing it in late 2011 and never found it until recently. Or rather, my girlfriend found my lost copy several months ago. With that said, I finally got to beat the one Zelda game that I never finished. Despite my last entry being in the Fire Temple, I picked the game back up relatively quickly.
Spirit Tracks really brought me back to another era. The blocky, low-resolution character models still charmed me with their glorious facial expressions and animations. The dated touch-screen controls were fairly gratuitous with Link being able to tap-and-hit enemies. I do recall it being a quality improvement over its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and it held up even a decade later.
Overall, I wouldn’t say it was the most special or must-play Zelda title by a long margin. Despite the long train rides and some annoying padding, though, Spirit Tracks can win over any Zelda fan.
The beautiful soundtrack harmonized perfectly with the unique story and writing in the final chapter of the Wind Waker era. However, in spite of the good dungeon design, boss battles, and funny moments, I would be okay with Nintendo never releasing another Zelda game with touch controls.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
What’s this? I’m playing another fighting game? Since several of my friends are doing it, I figured I may as well join in. Dragon Ball FighterZ resonates with largely balanced gameplay, long-strung combos, and entertainment to all player levels without ever being BS. Though if you follow the competitive scene, you might disagree after the release of the latest DLC character: Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta.
While I’m playing online in worldwide matchmaking, I’m rather upset that casual battles aren’t sorted by rank. This makes fighting people on my level more difficult outside of friend battles. In other words, either I get bodied by players well above my level or I fight a player who ragequits after losing one character.
I’ve been experimenting with a number of characters and team choices. But to make it short, basically any variation of Goku, Vegeta, Gogeta, Vegito, Gohan, and Trunks are on my team along with the occasional Piccolo. While I said I would main Vegito or Gogeta at one point, I’ve been chugging along at my own pace. I’m trying out Blue Vegeta right now and some of his combos make me feel like I might have a future in this game after all. On top of that, I’m also only 4,000,000 zeni away from unlocking the final trophy!
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection
Speaking of challenging titles, this one brings me back. You love 2D platformers and Capcom games, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection sends the perfect love letter on Nintendo Switch. It brings me right back to Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on SNES albeit without a double-jump ability.
Despite that, it’s way more forgiving than most of the past games. You have no lives or continues and multiple checkpoints. You can adjust the difficulty between deaths and use a skill tree to learn new magic spells.
I’m not gonna lie. I’m playing on Squire and enjoying it just fine. I don’t even play this series for getting destroyed repeatedly. I love the art style, music, and overall gameplay. Dying a dozen times per stage is just a side-effect to me.
Speaking of art, this has some of the creepiest yet most charming artwork, monster design, and backgrounds you will ever see in a side-scroller. And despite what I’ve seen from some reviews, this game isn’t really any cheaper than past entries and, like I said, a bit more forgiving. More like Contra than Castlevania, it does rely greatly on pattern-recognition and memorization. But if you’re fine with that, I think you will like this game.
Finally, after all these years, I’m back on Pokemon once again. I think the 25th-anniversary presentation struck a chord with me to get back into Pokemon. I loved this series as a kid, grew out of it as a teen and came back into it as an adult. Granted, I was never as obsessed and hype about it as I was back then. Still, I like to keep up.
The upcoming releases of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as well as the Pokemon Legends Arceus, got me wanting to finally start my run of Pokemon Sword. Well, I’m in Galar with my Raboot, Stufful, Corvisquire, and a few others. I’m on Route 4 and about ready to enter my first gym battle.
As it stands, I’m not sure when I’m going to transfer my Pokemon to Sword. Part of me wants to finish my Pokedex in past entries while the other says to just transfer my favorites to the game, like Sylveon and Pangoro. Not like I would be able to use them until I get gym badges but I still want to build a team around my favorites.
Anyway, the game is quite fun so far and I like the open-world landscapes of each route. It’s structured much better than the samey, minimal paths between major areas like in other JRPGs such as Tales of Xillia. Battling moves fast, character design remains strong as always, and I’m looking forward to my next Pokemon adventure!
Believe it or not, I also started a playthrough of Yakuza 3, Last Window: Secret of Cape West, and Persona 5 Strikers. I also started up The Champion’s Ballad DLC in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Since I finished Twilight Princess HD and Spirit Tracks, I figured it was time. But I suppose discussion on those will have to wait till next time.
Right now, I want to focus on clearing a number of backlog titles. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Final Fantasy XV top my list of games I want to finish before moving onto others. Plus I want to keep my skills in Smash polished. Since I got my first COVID vaccine, I’ll be getting my second one next month. I would love for tournaments to return around May or June.
Until my next entry, feel free to share your journal in the comments. Whether you’re playing a new hit or an older classic, or you’re keeping your skills ahead of the curve in a competitive game, share your current play log in the replies!
Also, be sure to follow our social media links and stay up to date with our gaming and anime features. Until next time!
I recently finished the Netflix anime series Baki. Recommended by the good guys who run the Manime panel at Anime Weekend Atlanta, my girlfriend picked this one out for us. She picked this right after we finished Kengan Ashura, another stellar combat anime series I recommend.
With that being said, Baki has its ups and downs. But I will say those downs don’t really hit until the end which I’ll get to shortly. For what it’s worth though, this anime kicks ass. The animation, the music, the character design, and even the narrative history on martial arts and other tidbits of trivia hit a high note.
For those wondering, this adaptation of Baki does not take place at the beginning of the manga. This anime begins with the Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc. The previous tournament arc is essentially recapped right in the opening.
With that being said, I would love to get to the point on why I recommend Baki.
What to Expect from Baki
Baki the Grappler is a martial arts shonen manga released in Japan in 1991. It features the young martial artist, Baki, who seeks to defeat his father, Yujiro Hanma, also known as the Strongest Living Creature. Having murdered Baki’s mother, he seeks revenge while training and fighting against many powerful martial artists.
Compared to your contemporary shonen anime, however, Baki is a great deal more violent and geared towards a more mature audience. Think more like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure in terms of violence because it pushes on horror levels of gore. On the flipside, Baki also offers insightful trivia on martial arts, history, as well as some grossly exaggerated anatomical feats such as surviving bullets to the face.
The Netflix arc focuses not just on Baki but on a myriad of fighters. The Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc features five fugitives who escaped the death penalty and traveled to Tokyo in order to seek defeat. These convicts fight against Baki as well as his fellow martial artists including Doppo Orochi, Kaioh Retsu, and Gouki Shibukawa, among others.
Stellar Work of Animation and Narrative
Being released in 2018, Baki features some of the most cutting-edge animation. Many of the fights feature some incredibly hard-hitting blows and fast-paced fighting. Along with the stellar character detail, I can’t say enough good things about it.
Every fighter in this series is a true badass. Fighters like Biscuit Oliva and Jack Hanma are among the most intimidating people introduced alongside the already frightening Death Row Convicts. Not to mention some of the convicts are just downright sick in the head, like Spec, who will surely disturb you.
Baki brings a wonderful notion of dread especially throughout the first part of the Death Row Convicts arc. The villains are seemingly unbeatable at first and the fights involve a number of grotesque sequences. For a martial arts series, I daresay the level of violence might blow your mind.
A Couple of Drops in Writing
However, Baki isn’t a perfect anime. I feel there were a few studders here and there with the writing. Naturally, whether it’s the same as in the manga or not, I’m not sure. I certainly don’t fault the anime production team for bringing this to life. Regardless, the writing dips once during the first arc and essentially the second half of the last arc.
For starters, Dorian’s defeat egged me a little bit. He was soundly defeated by Doppo Orochi. Yet he retaliates in a sneak attack against Orochi only to be defeated quickly by Kaioh Retsu. As such, he loses his mind and regresses to a childlike persona. I don’t know why that was ever necessary when it could have ended at Orochi.
This problem also extends similarly to my least favorite arc, the Muhammad Ali Jr. arc. While the manga pays great tribute to Ali, his son initially starts off as an incarnation of Ali, but younger, in the Baki series. Beating down tough fighters using Ali’s skills, Ali Jr. quickly becomes a dominant fighter. Where does that lead us?
I will say, however, that the series pays tremendous respsect to boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
After his utter defeat, he is rematched by and loses to the 3 competitors he previously defeated. Suddenly, he’s going to challenge Baki Hanma and expect to win? After his inevitable defeat, he’s reduced to a crying mess. While I’m all for an arc where a powerful character is humbled and grows from it, nothing came of this ass-whooping that Ali Jr. received. It felt like a pointless direction. And to make matters worse, the arc ends on the cliffhanger of Baki and Yujiro finally going to battle.
The Ali Jr. arc in itself wasn’t terrible. But it didn’t live up to the Raitai Tournament and certainly not the Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc which I found epic. It still had plenty of gorgeously animated visceral scenes but it lacked the tension of the previous arcs as well as building up a prominent fighter just to drop him like a basket of eggs.
I especially enjoyed the Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc. I loved the premise of a life-or-death tournament where a battle could happen at any time. These frightening convicts with superhuman strength were fighting to kill and the series wasn’t afraid to gross you out with it. The latter arcs were endearing with their fights and animation but nothing quite hit like the first one.
With that being said, Baki isn’t perfect but it’s certainly worth watching. For shonen and martial arts enthusiasts, definitely give this one a watch. If you’re interested even further, seek out the manga or the older anime series to catch up on what happened before the Netflix series.
If big muscles, hand-to-hand combat, and gory deaths excite you, Baki will surely deliver. While I would disagree with the direction of writing in a couple of places, I still found myself entertained throughout. The Death Row Convicts and Raitai Tournament arcs were surely exciting.
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Earlier this month, Nintendo released Pyra and Mythra to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. As part of Fighter Pass 2, this duo-unit can swap on a dime akin to Zelda and Sheik in past Zelda titles. However, more in line with the Echo Fighters of Smash, Pyra and Mythra share a similar moveset albeit with major differences in frame data, properties, and their Special moves.
After a week to try them out, how do Pyra and Mythra fare in the competition? I’ve been playing them online against a number of players and I gotta say they handle incredibly well. As someone who generally favors swordfighters and melee-type battlers, I think this is one of the best DLC characters I’ve played as!
I’ve given myself a few days to work out their mechanics and understand the fundamental differences between the two. Overall, Pyra hits harder and launches much sooner. Meanwhile, Mythra moves faster, can combo off of nearly anything, and her recovery is marginally better. This is thanks both to her Side B, Photon Edge, moving across wide gaps while her Up B recovery moves can briefly launch her upwards.
Together, with her faster air speed, she’s the better choice when moving back to the stage from a disadvantage. But take note not to get launched as her weight is 92 compared to Pyra’s 98, making her easier to KO as a result. With that said, I want to take the time to cover my findings with you and show you a bit of what the latest Smash DLC fighters are capable of.
Mythra, the damage dealer.
The Aegis’ true form wields a light-elemental blade. Mythra boasts minuscule damage and KO power for an incredible combo game and her ability to get away with nearly every button press. Imagine Marth without a sweetspot but moves with Meta-Knight’s speed. Plus she has Foresight, a dodge-counter ability similar to Bayonetta’s Bat Within.
Mythra is most fond of staying up in the enemy’s face to rack up as much damage as possible. Her frame data all but ensures that she will get away with whiffs while stuffing most offense attempts with her priority. However, she won’t get a KO with anything but FSmash which, at best, kills around 90% on the ledge. While you can hit a Forward Throw tech-chase mixup into this, her KO ability feels quite limited.
In the early Mythra meta, players have found a way to use her Neutral B move, Lightning Buster, into mixups. She can use it to ledgetrap as well as followup from a platform hit. While this will boast her damage dealing a little more, Mythra is best suited to building up damage until she switches out to Pyra.
Pyra, the killer.
Whereas Mythra plays more akin to Marth and Meta-Knight, Pyra feels more comfortable to the Roy and Ike player. Her heavier weight, slower speed,and flame sword attacks will feel right at home to any players of Roy and Ike. It also goes without saying that her impactful KO game contends among them as well.
Pyra has better range on her flame sword and multiple ways to KO an opponent. Her Up Aerial can KO off the top while Forward Aerial is better suited to edgeguarding. Back Aerial can also KO off the top, as well as auto-cancel, while Down Aerial can spike opponents using a large sweetspot.
In neutral, Pyra can end matches with Foward Smash within 70%. Up Smash and Prominence Revolt, her Up B, can also end matches under 100%. Dash attack can punish landings at a distance and a charged Flame Nova will not only end stocks but break shields. In short, Pyra will end matches with among the most reliable KO ability in the game.
And that’s not to say her combo game isn’t without strength either. Pyra’s best starters come from Down Tilt and Down Throw. Plus her Side B, Blazing End, makes for a fantastic projectile. It starts relatively quickly and lingers for over a second making it ideal for camping and ledge-trapping. In the air, it will also KO around the 130% mark to punish landings.
Until I see their meta continue, I don’t think I’m going to switch over to them as secondaries, or at least not yet. They definitely give me everything I could ask for in a fighter, or pair of fighters rather. However, given that I have most of my bases covered with Pyra’s strength, Mythra’s speed, and a little of both with my current swordsmen, they’ll largely be my casual fighters to use online.
However, that’s not at all to discount their ability in competitive Smash. All DLC characters from Fighter Pass 2 have proven to be relevant choices in the meta. Pyra and Mythra, right now, I would place in A-Tier. The only things really barring them from S-Tier are their lackluster recovery. Now, while bad recovery hasn’t impeded strong characters in the past, such as Wolf or Smash 4 Cloud, Pyra and Mythra don’t have a Limit mechanic to improve their recovery either.
Pyra falls like a stone with a single vertical option which you can punish. Mythra, speaking of Cloud, does not auto-snap the ledge off of her Side B. Overshoot the ledge and you’ll land on the stage and die to a ledge-trap. Undershoot it and you’ll fall just shy of the ledge-snapping point.
Their strengths, collectively, come from their range and their incredibly useful Special move options. Their Side B moves, in particular, cover various options. Photon Edge can punish nearly anything while Blazing End functions as one of the strongest projectile damage-dealers in the game. Even though Pyra becomes unable to attack during Blazing End, she can evade enemy attacks and move freely.
I see them hitting Ike and Roy’s level being not-quite top tiers but good enough to contend with most of the roster. They might lack recovery and edgeguarding options but while Mythra deals damage without punishment, Pyra will put the competitive meta on notice with her ridiculous KO power.
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